When camp opened two weeks ago, everyone knew the National League East was going to be a tough division. The Phillies had already added Jean Segura, Andrew McCutchen, David Robertson and JT Realmuto. The Nationals strong starting staff improved with the signing of Patrick Corbin, to go along with newcomers Brian Dozier, Trevor Rosenthal and Kyle Barraclough. Meanwhile, in New York, the Mets acquired Robinson Cano and closer Edwin Diaz, brought back closer Jeurys Familia and signed Jed Lowire. But, yesterday, the story of the NL East became even more complex with Bryce Harper signing with Philadelphia.
Folks in Las Vegas have certainly taken notice as well, as the Phillies over/under for wins jumped from 85 to 89.5 with yesterday’s big news. I had a chance to visit with ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian last week as he passed through Braves camp and he raised a valid point. With four of the five teams in the NL East looking strong, one of these four teams is going to finish in fourth place. Freddie Freeman echoed those sentiments on Friday morning when asked how Harper’s signing impacts the other four teams in the East. “I really think a division winner in the National League East could be 86 to 88 games. Someone’s going to come in fourth place that could come in first place in a whole other division” Freeman said on Friday. “Those September ball games are going to be fun to play, I can tell you that” he added, understanding repeating as division champs will be much more complex in 2019.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I believe Alex Anthopoulos will make at least one impactful move over the next four weeks between now and Opening Day to improve this club. There are still players out there on the Free Agent market, and don’t forget, players get cut loose during the course of camp (see: Anibal Sanchez last March) so I’m not ruling out another move or two on the horizon. For now, the Braves will ask for and expect more out of their young core of Albies, Acuna, Swanson, Camargo and pitchers like Mike Foltynewicz, Sean Newcomb and others. As Freddie Freeman pointed out on Friday, “I feel like they did it to catch up to us” when it comes to other teams in the East and the moves they’ve made over the past five months.
Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves for @680TheFan and @BravesRadioNet since 2012